Front Page Titles (by Subject) TO GEORGE TICKNOR - The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826)
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TO GEORGE TICKNOR - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 12 (Correspondence and Papers 1816-1826) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 12.
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TO GEORGE TICKNOR
Poplar Forest near Lynchburg, Nov. 25. 17
—Your favor of Aug. 14. was delivered to me as I was setting out for the distant possession from which I now write, & to which I pay frequent & long visits. On my arrival here I make it my first duty to write the letter you request to Mr. Erving, and to inclose it in this under cover to your father that you may get it in time. My letters are always letters of thanks because you are always furnishing occasion for them. I am very glad you have been so kind as to make the alteration you mention in the Herodotus & Livy I had asked from the Messrs. Desbures. I have not yet heard from them, but daily expect to do so, and to learn the arrival of my books. I shall probably send them another catalogue early in spring; every supply from them furnishing additional materials for my happiness.
I had before heard of the military ingredients which Bonaparte had infused into all the schools of France, but have never so well understood them as from your letter. The penance he is now doing for all his atrocities must be soothing to every virtuous heart. It proves that we have a god in heaven. That he is just, and not careless of what passes in this world. And we cannot but wish to this inhuman wretch, a long, long life, that time as well as intensity may fill up his sufferings to the measure of his enormities. But indeed what sufferings can atone for his crimes against the liberties & happiness of the human race; for the miseries he has already inflicted on his own generation, & on those yet to come, on whom he has rivetted the chains of despotism!
I am now entirely absorbed in endeavours to effect the establishment of a general system of education in my native state, on the triple basis, 1, of elementary schools which shall give to the children of every citizen gratis, competent instruction in reading, writing, common arithmetic, and general geography. 2. Collegiate institutions for antient & modern languages, for higher instruction in arithmetic, geography & history, placing for these purposes a college within a day’s ride of every inhabitant of the state, and adding a provision for the full education at the public expence of select subjects from among the children of the poor, who shall have exhibited at the elementary schools the most prominent indications of aptness of judgment & correct disposition. 3. An University in which all the branches of science deemed useful at this day, shall be taught in their highest degree. This would probably require ten or twelve professors, for most of whom we shall be obliged to apply to Europe, and most likely to Edinburg, because of the greater advantage the students will receive from communications made in their native language. This last establishment will probably be within a mile of Charlottesville, and four from Monticello, if the system should be adopted at all by our legislature who meet within a week from this time. My hopes however are kept in check by the ordinary character of our state legislatures, the members of which do not generally possess information enough to perceive the important truths, that knolege is power, that knolege is safety, and that knolege is happiness.
In the meantime, and in case of failure of the broader plan, we are establishing a college of general science, at the same situation near Charlottesville, the scale of which, of necessity will be much more moderate, as resting on private donations only. These amount at present to about 75,000 Dollars. The buildings are begun, and by midsummer we hope to have two or three professorships in operation. Would to god we could have two or three duplicates of yourself, the original being above our means and hopes. If then we fail in doing all the good we wish, we will do at least all we can. This is the law of duty in every society of free agents, where every one has equal right to judge for himself. God bless you, and give to the means of benefiting mankind which you will bring home with you, all the success your high qualifications ought to insure.
TO WILLIAM WIRT
Monticello, January 5, 1818
I have first to thank you, dear Sir, for the copy of your late work which you have been so kind as to send me, and then to render you double congratulations, first, on the general applause it has so justly received, and next on the public testimony of esteem for its author, manifested by your late call to the executive councils of the nation. All this I do heartily, and then proceed to a case of business on which you will have to advise the government on the threshold of your office. You have seen the death of General Kosciusko announced in the papers in such a way as not to be doubted. He had in the funds of the United States a very considerable sum of money, on the interest of which he depended for subsistence. On his leaving the United States, in 1798, he placed it under my direction by a power of attorney, which I executed entirely through Mr. Barnes, who regularly remitted his interest. But he left also in my hands an autograph will, disposing of his funds in a particular course of charity, and making me his executor. The question the government will ask of you, and which I therefore ask, is in what court must this will be proved, and my qualification as executor be received, to justify the United States in placing these funds under the trust? This is to be executed wholly in this State, and will occupy so long a course of time beyond what I can expect to live, that I think to propose to place it under the Court of Chancery. The place of probate generally follows the residence of the testator. That was in a foreign country in the present case. Sometimes the bona notabilia. The evidences or representations of these (the certificates) are in my hands. The things represented (the money) in those of the United States. But where are the United States? Everywhere, I suppose, where they have government or property liable to the demand on payment. That is to say, in every State of the Union, in this, for example, as well as any other, strengthened by the circumstances of the deposit of the will, the residence of the executor, and the place where the trust is to be executed. In no instance, I believe, does the mere habitation of the debtor draw to it the place of probate, and if it did, the United States are omnipresent by their functionaries, as well as property in every State of the Union. I am led by these considerations to suppose our district or general court competent to the object; but you know best, and by your advice, sanctioned by the Secretary of the Treasury, I shall act. I write to the Secretary on this subject. If our district court will do, I can attend it personally; if the general court only be competent, I am in hopes it will find means of dispensing with my personal attendance. I salute you with affectionate esteem and respect.